The boom gate is raised in friendly welcome and our boat glides in through the picturesque canal, delivering us into the hands of the amiable staff who are awaiting our arrival with bright lamps and brighter smiles. We are greeted tenderly with tender coconuts adorned with bright red hibiscus.
There is a heightened feeling of anticipation, as we sense that our stay here is going to be as exciting as our entry and we look forward to spending the next 2 days basking in arcadian luxury, an oxymoron being most apt to describe the diverse blend of traditional settings and modern comforts.
It is always a sheer pleasure to experience the hospitality at any of the resorts owned by the CGH Earth group and my delight was boundless when I found out that the splendid Coconut Lagoon resort in Kumarakom, was going to be my host for 2 nights during my pre-mart media tour organized by the Kerala Travel Mart (KTM) Society at the KTM 2022 event that was held in Kochi from May 5th to 8th, 2022.
So sail into the Coconut Lagoon resort, Kumarakom, Kottayam district, Kerala, India and spend the next 2 days being amazed at their uncompromising commitment to sustainable and responsible tourism, among other exciting elements of course!
About the CGH Earth group of hotels –
Starting out in 1954 as the Casino Group of Hotels, the CGH Earth has evolved into a collection of hotels and resorts that stand for environment friendly values, are inspired by nature, respect and safeguard heritage and bear a commitment to the local community. The abbreviation now aptly expands to Clean Green Healthy Earth and every one of its properties attempts to bear a theme related to the distinctive characteristics of the local region.
About Coconut Lagoon –
This splendid property reaches out into the backwaters of the mighty Lake Vembanad and the waters reciprocate by gently caressing its borders. The serene setting is soothing but at the same time holds significant potential to make for an exciting vacation with the various activities that it offers.
Coconut Lagoon is located in the tranquil village of Kumarakom, where the topography is an amalgam of land and water, with its innumerable network of canals that eventually find their destination in the backwaters. Consequently, the village in itself is a veritable smorgasbord of backwater resorts, of which Coconut Lagoon is one of the prominent ones.
This 30 acre getaway came into existence in 1993. Its 50 cottages serve to preserve Kerala’s heritage, being crafted from sections of painstakingly transplanted traditional homes called Tharavads, many of which were over a 100 years old. It is a testimony to the caliber of Kerala’s ancient architecture and the skill of its craftsmen, that these elements of yore are still in pristine form. Of course, modern features have been adroitly interwoven within, in order to provide the luxury and comfort that the guest would expect of a resort of this stature.
The reception area is likewise a re-creation of one such mansion, replete with the central courtyard, wooden pillars, traditional red tiles, large wooden swing and manichitrathazhu, an ornate lock made of brass which was used in the buildings of yesteryear.
The strains of the harmonium fill the air, adding to the cultural vibes of the space.
Vibes that are disrupted at times by over enthusiastic guests 🤨😎 (see the video below)
Environmental consideration being the key focus of all CGH Earth hotels, the Coconut Lagoon too follows this ethos, which is evident in all facets of their functioning.
Due to a lack of time, I could not tour the property in its entirety as I usually do, hence there will be less photos than usual.
The Stay –
Coconut Lagoon gives the guest a choice of 3 types of cottages.
The Heritage Bungalows which are independent cottages, scattered across the property amidst the numerous trees and greenery.
The Heritage Mansions are built on 2 levels, with a sitting room and bathroom on the ground floor and the main bedroom on the upper floor, which is accessed via a heavy wooden staircase.
The Pool Villas lie secluded along the waterfront and they are blessed with their own private pools, personal hammock and loads of peace and quiet.
All the cottages have bathrooms that are open to the sky.
As mentioned earlier, all the dwellings have been refashioned from wooden components rescued from ancient tharavads with red oxide tiled flooring to match. All the doors have chunky regular keys (not electronic cards) to secure the locks. Entering the cottages is like stepping back in time, in a truly nostalgic way.
There are 2 restaurants on the premises.
The Ettukettu multi cuisine dining option serves the buffet meals of the day. And speaking of going back in time, the Malayalam calendar on the blackboard, flips you right back into the 9th month of the 12th century, where the temperature and humidity are surprisingly the same as in the 5th month of the 21st century 😎
Hunger renders my jokes feeble, so let me fortify myself with delicacies from Kerala.
The lakefront seafood restaurant is the other dining option. Unfortunately I did not get to see the place despite being a seafood hyper enthusiast 😏
At CGH they are very conscious about what they serve and they aim to use as few refined ingredients as possible. There is an exclusive use of wholegrain in all their breads and breakfast pastries. No refined flour (maida) is used. They also use millets and other wholesome grains in their dosas and other Indian breads.
There is a significant presence of local Kerala cuisine in addition to the multicuisine options at every meal. The food here was an absolute delight and there was always something exciting to look forward to.
Of course the crowd favorite has always been the sun dried Kerala banana, naturally sweet and delightfully chewy and novel to first timers from other places. Remind to click a picture next time and not be preoccupied with stuffing my mouth!
Dinner is accompanied by live music. The mellifluous notes of the flautist mingle with the throbbing of the mridangam and add flavor to the night.
Environment sensitivity and Social commitment –
The hallmark of all CGH Earth properties is their undying adherence to achieving a high level of eco-friendliness and commitment to the local community and this they accomplish by adopting various sustainable means.
There is minimal use of plastic. Glass bottles are used in rooms and filled with purified water. Wet waste is composted and also used to produce biogas.
The staff hails from the surroundings and they duly benefit economically from the employment that is generated.
Features and Facilities –
Wi Fi – available throughout the property.
Ayurveda and Spa –
With a qualified Doctor in charge, there are treatments that are suggested as per individual needs. Yet again I did not have the time to experience this.
Swimming pool –
The swimming pool is stunning and as an added bonus, also offers a view of the lake that lies alongside.
Souvenir Shop –
A glimpse of the resort and the experiences.
Activities within the resort –
Cultural show – a 45 minute performance in the evenings, showcasing traditional dances like Bharathnatyam, Kuchipudi, Mohiniattam etc, performed by local artistes.
Bird walk –
An early morning expedition within the property, led by the knowledgeable naturalist whose anecdotes and bits of information make for a very interesting session. The resort is home to several species of birds and the adjoining waters too, contribute a significant share of bird life.
Property tour –
Yet another activity which takes you around the entire premises and gives you an insight into the various eco friendly projects and other features of the resort.
Aquatic activities –
Water activities like kayaking and Stand up paddling (SUP), are facilitated by the adjacent backwaters. You can actually say ‘Sup to the paddlers 😉
Sunset cruise –
This is the highlight (quite literally) of this place, where the guests are treated to an exclusive boat cruise that sails into the sunset. The glory of the water and the drama of the skies, paint a breathtaking vista that the camera tries its best to do justice to. Both clear and overcast skies, present their own versions of magnificence and one need not rue when the sun decides to play hide and seek with the clouds and fails to execute a structured sunset.
Things to do in the Surroundings –
The village of Aymanam lies very near the resort and the river cruise cum village tour holds a plethora of options for the tourist. One can halt at various stops and interact with artisans who display their varied skills in coir making, palm leaf weaving, fishing and the most exciting of all, the toddy tapping.
And equally exciting are the birds that one can spot from the boat, including an insane number of ducks 😉
The Kumarakom bird sanctuary also is almost adjacent to the property.
The surrounding villages also offer a host of attractions like the Driftwood museum, the Juma Masjid at Thazhathangadi which is said to be 1000 years old and one of India’s oldest mosques, many old churches like the St Mary’s Orthodox church, ancient temples and other marvels of heritage and architecture.
Getting there –
Coconut Lagoon is 80 km from Cochin International Airport.
The nearest Railway station is at Kottayam, 20 kms away.
Taxis would be the most convenient way to get to the resort from these places.
The last mile (or should I say kilometer) is accessed only via water. The resort has its exclusive boat jetty where there is a bench for sitting, a washroom and fans to keep you from melting 😏
Boats are dispatched whenever there are guests to be ferried and the delightful sail takes around 10-15 minutes through water hyacinth ridden waters. The private entry is manned by a boom gate that is raised only to permit authorized traffic.
Please Note –
On this trip I was hosted by the Kerala Travel Mart Society and partnering hotels, as a media invitee and I thank them for the hospitality. My narration is based on the inputs I received from various sources as well as my personal experiences.
For more pictures see My Facebook – Coconut Lagoon. Kumarakom
May 1st, 2nd, 2022